KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Music News

Zuoxiao Zuzhou is a Chinese singer whose accented, croaky voice is hardly ever in tune. But for his fans he's the voice of a generation — one of the very few voices who dare to speak out. After a collaboration, Cowboy Junkies member Michael Timmins called him "China's Leonard Cohen."

Can You Learn To Like Music You Hate?

Feb 15, 2013

You hear some music you hate. That's fair. We all do on occasion. But can you learn to love — or at least not loathe — that music? Can you intentionally transform the visceral response you have to certain pieces and styles, or does that happen at some more incalculable, subtle level?

Researchers at Australia's University of Melbourne say that the more dissonance (which they describe as "perceived roughness, harshness, unpleasantness, or difficulty in listening to the sound") that we hear in music, the less we enjoy said music. Seems obvious enough, right?

This interview was originally broadcast on Jan. 17, 2013.

After huge critical and commercial success last year, breakthrough British sensation Emeli Sande has her sights set on America.

It's a long way from her roots. Born to a Zambian father and English mother, the singer-songwriter was raised in Scotland. She tells NPR's Michel Martin that being the only mixed-race family in a small village had a big impact on her.

A Brief History Of The Grammy Sales Bump

Feb 15, 2013

As televised prize-givers, the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences are slouches. The dozen prizes given out in a typical Grammy Awards telecast is the lowest of any major awards-show telecast, from the Oscars to the Emmys. NARAS gives out the bulk of its little gramophones in an untelevised ceremony.

But as sales-juicers? The Grammys are unparalleled.

We've been able to record sound for over 125 years, but many of the recordings that have been made in that time are in terrible shape. Many more, even recordings made in the past 10 years, are in danger because rapid technological changes have rendered their software obsolete. So Wednesday, the Library of Congress unveiled a plan to help preserve this country's audio archives.

The trumpeter and educator Donald Byrd, a top jazz practitioner in the '50s and '60s whose later work shaped black pop music through multiple generations, died Feb. 4 in Dover, Del. Haley Funeral Directors near Detroit confirmed the news, which was first circulated online last week. He was 80.

Listen to Mandalit del Barco's radio report from the Grammys at the audio link.

Sunday night's Grammys are an opportunity to rain accolades on pop music and perhaps witness the musical return of Justin Timberlake. But each year, the Recording Academy also honors recordings of "lasting significance" by inducting them into the Grammy Hall of Fame. One of them this year is Kentucky fiddler Bill Stepp's performance of "Bonaparte's Retreat."

Frank Ocean is set to take a victory lap at this year's Grammys. He's up for six awards for his album Channel Orange, including best new artist, and he'll be performing as well. But just a few months ago, Frank Ocean's music wasn't the story — his sexuality was.

To review: After a listening party for Channel Orange last July, a BBC journalist pointed out that a few of the love songs referenced a "him" where you might have expected to hear "her."

In the hippest building on what has been called the coolest block in America, Venice Beach's Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Jeff Bhasker is wearing white jeans and a T-shirt, smoking an American Spirit cigarette. He's seated at his brand new piano in his brand new apartment.

The No. 1 song in the country right now is "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, a rap group out of Seattle. Their claim to fame: They got the song to the top of the chart by themselves, without being signed by a major label.

Pioneering American conductor, National Medal of Arts winner and poet James DePreist died early this morning in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was 76 years old. His death, his manager told Deceptive Cadence, stemmed from complications following a heart attack he suffered nearly a year ago.

If you took one song each from the artists likely to walk away with Grammy awards on Sunday night, you'd have a pretty decent playlist.

Among the hundreds of musicians vying for Grammy Awards this year is Al Walser, a Los Angeles-based disc jockey and singer whose song "I Can't Live Without You" is nominated in the best dance single category. Walser is not a widely known name — many Grammy nominees aren't — but he's competing in a category against some of pop music's heaviest hitters.

Sometime in the mid-1960s — no one's really sure when — Lena Hughes walked into a recording studio, probably in Arkansas. What we do know is that she recorded 11 tunes on the guitar.

"It's kind of like listening to 1880," folklorist Howard Marshall says. "You kind of get a wonderful, ancient vibration."

Marshall wrote a book about traditional music in Missouri, called Play Me Something Quick and Devilish.

Reg Presley, the founder and lead singer of The Troggs, the rock group best known for the performing the original version of the song "Wild Thing," has died. Presley was 71. He died of lung cancer yesterday at his home in England.

Grab a guitar, hit those three chords (A, D, E) and take three minutes to pay your respects:

Reg Presley, who sang Wild Thing with The Troggs in 1966, is dead. He was 71 and had suffered a series of strokes recently.

The band's website says Presley "died peacefully" on Monday, "surrounded by all of his family."

NPR's Neda Ulaby tells our Newscast Desk that:

One of the Twitter hashtags devised by rabid Beyonce fans before last night's Super Bowl halftime show was religious in nature: #praisebeysus. Praise Beysus! This bit of hyperventilating resonated in interesting ways. Strutting into the very center of America's biggest television spectacle, the 31-year-old superstar intended to secure her place in the musical pantheon next to recent Super Bowl-approved legends Madonna, The Who, Bruce Springsteen and Prince.

In March, country music star Jason Aldean is playing Madison Square Garden. Tickets sold out in 10 minutes. Fans want to hear his latest No. 1 song, "Take a Little Ride."

In Afghanistan, there was no sound of music when the Taliban ruled from 1996 to 2001. The Islamist militants destroyed music CDs and instruments and even jailed musicians.

Today, there are music schools and young Afghans playing in public. And, this weekend, 48 Afghan boys and girls are traveling to the U.S. to perform at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center.

Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Feb 1, 2013

  • Hugely good news for all you wandering minstrels: After years of pressure from groups like the American Federation of Musicians, the FAA has just passed a bill that (finally!) allows musicians to carry their instruments as carry-on luggage or, for larger instruments, to buy an extra seat. However, the federal agency has a year to implement the new standards.

The Grammy-award winning singer Beyoncé has finally put an end to all the talk surrounding her performance during President Obama's second inauguration.

And she did it in diva fashion, during a press conference to preview her Super Bowl performance.

The jazz musician Butch Morris was beloved by his fellow musicians and acclaimed by critics and fans for his ability to conduct improvisation. While that may sound like a contradiction, Morris pulled it off — with jazz musicians and symphony orchestras around the world.

A resident of New York City, he died yesterday in a Brooklyn hospital of cancer. He was 65 years old.

Pages